“Book Tasting Today” announced a sign prominently displayed on my office door. The jazz music playing softly, the dimmed lights, the red checkered tablecloths, the centerpieces of red carnations and fireless candles suggested that this was not going to be our typical grade level meeting.
Last week when I spoke to several colleagues about possible agendas, I was reminded of our good fortune to have a brand new collection of novels to support the next reading unit of study. Inspired by posts in google community, Twitter and Shelley’s blog post (featured last week) about the 6th-grade book tasting she attended, I thought: “Why not do a book tasting with teachers so that they can experience this engaging way of getting to know new books?”
After deciding to try out this professional development format, I immediately emailed a colleague at a neighboring school district who posted pictures of her book tasting on our online book community. She promptly sent me ALL of her resources! I started reading, printing and planning. Shelley shared how her colleague infused technology into her book tasting. The next day, I went back to my desk and set up google slides with book trailers, reviews, author interviews… anything I could find that would entice readers to select these books.
This morning I arrived at school earlier than I usually do and with my daughters’ help, my office became the “Schuylerville Diner” (named by my oldest). I turned on the fireless candles, partially frozen from spending the night in my car, borrowed my friend’s Keurig, and set out both healthy and not-so-healthy treats. Decorating and presentation are not my forte but I thoroughly enjoyed shopping for and setting up this book tasting!
A platter of books sat at each table. I set the timer for 5 minutes so that teachers could look them over and then record their thoughts on a reflection sheet in their “Book Tasting” booklet. Then I showed the Google slide for one of the featured books. We continued this routine a total of 4 times. Teachers had time to talk about the books and consider how a tasting might look in their classrooms. One asked about students choosing books on their level. Another suggested that we could ensure that those students sat at a table that featured books within their reach. I added that perhaps students who are drawn to books that may be a challenge for them at this point, record the title and set a goal to read the book later in the year. The book trailers and reviews generated conversation around ways to have students share books. One teacher offered the idea that this year’s class can make trailers for next year’s? Another suggested a grade-wide Padlet of shelfies that would connect all 3rd graders! The creative ideas flowed like the smooth jazz that served as background music.
This was a positive, relaxed experiences that generated some great conversation about readers. Because it went so well and generated the curiosity of teachers who passed by my room, I decided to introduce the first and second-grade teachers to book tasting when we explore our new read aloud texts. So often, I find that the best PD experiences are those that invite us to experience the work that we ask of our students. This book tasting was no exception!
Now onto the classroom!
By the end of the hour, teachers scheduled time with me to bring this experience to their students. I’ll be collaborating with one colleague tomorrow and am anxious to see how it translates to a group of third graders!